Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tractor in Charcoal

Okay, I've shown you sheds and barns in charcoal, I decided it's time put some wheels on it.

art drawing charcoal tractor farmall agriculture abandoned


12" X 16" Charcoal and watercolor

A vintage Farmall tractor sits abandoned in a grassy field looking towards a stand of cottonwood trees being looked over by a distant hill and backlit clouds.  These old Farmall tractors are scattered all over rural Northern Utah.  This one with it's unusual configuration and attachment is part of a collection in Wallsburg.  I haven't been able to figure out what those things do that are mounted just behind the fuel tank, but there sure are a lot of levers and linkages involved.  The field is more or less from my imagination, the trees from another reference photo taken somewhere in the Heber Valley and the clouds from yet another reference photo taken in some rural area.
I didn't know what I was going to call this drawing until close to halfway through.  The composition along with the use of charcoal created a mood.  I couldn't put my finger on it at first but as the drawing went along it came more into focus.  This lone tractor sitting in a disused field seems to look off into the distance with longing for the days when it could have been put to use to till that field, now it just sits all broke down, a shadow of it's former self and can only wistfully recall those days long ago.  Yes, I just anthropomorphized a farm tractor.  Yes, the tractor is just an inanimate object, but at one time in the hands of an operator it was very animated, and did a lot of work achieved a lot of constructive aims.  Can anyone look at a scene like this and not project some kind of human emotion on it?  Haven't we all felt at one time or another similar to how this tractor must feel if it could feel?  I remember showing my Mom my first abandoned truck painting and it actually seemed to make her a bit sad and her first comment was, "It just seems so lonely.".  She must be getting used to my style because when she looked at this one she didn't have that reaction but she did look at it a good bit.
I never really intend to get philosophical with my art though I do want it show the beauty of the subject and to evoke some kind of emotion, without meaning to I think this drawing took my intentions a step deeper, or maybe I'm just getting soft in my old age.
Now for the nuts and bolts.  At 12" X 16" this is the biggest drawing I've ever done, and is about as big as I can comfortably work on with my current drawing table.  I've tried drawing at an easel several times but I just don't have enough control for that plus it hurts my shoulder more, so 12" X 16" may be as big as I get, we'll see. I started with Arches hot press paper in a block, (I don't really want to stretch paper.) and after a light and simple graphite sketch I applied some subtle watercolor washes.  After the washes dried the rest was just straight up drawing using charcoal pencils, stumps, tortillons, and erasers.

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